Could You Have Mad Cow Disease And Not Know It?

Based on a report in last week's The Lancet, the variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) better known as mad cow disease may have a much longer incubation period -- lasting more than 50 years in men -- than many scientists have speculated.

Researchers based their findings on the effects of kuru, another human disease like mad cow that's caused by a mutated prion brain protein blamed for nearly eradicating tribal cannibals in New Guinea over a near 40-year stretch, ending by 1960.

In fact, scientists believe vCJD may have a longer incubation period because the infection is transmitted between species. Moreover, people who have already been diagnosed with vCJD may be part of a distinct subgroup of the general population, with an unusually short incubation period, researchers said.

All the more reason to be extremely careful about where your meat comes from. Even certified organic beef isn't as good for your health as grass-fed, non-factory-farmed meats, chock full of beneficial fats like conjugated linoleic acid from a local source.

If you can't find one, take a look at the sources available on my Web site.

The Lancet, Vol. 367, No. 9528, June 24, 2006: 2068-2074 Registration Required

MSNBC June 22, 2006

New York Times June 23, 2006 Registration Required

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